Nikolaj Kunsthal – Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen

Nikolaj Plads 10, Copenhagen
Hovedstaden, Denmark
Phone: +45 24 22 71 27
closed on: Mondays
Museum Type: Cultural centers

The Nikolaj Kunsthal is a contemporary art center housed in the former Church of St. Nicholas in central Copenhagen, Denmark.

The St. Nicholas Church is a late-Gothic style building whose origins date back to the 13th century. The 3-naive Gothic church was completed in 1591 with the construction of an imposing 90-meter-high tower.
The building was badly damaged by the Great Fire of Copenhagen in 1795, only the tower remained untouched. The structure was then converted into a fire station, and as a butcher’s market later on; in 1829, Hans Christian Andersen wrote set here a popular theatrical piece, entitled Love on St. Nicholas Church Tower.


View of central Copenhagen with the St. Nicholas Church / Nikolaj Kunsthal at the center; photo by barnyz (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Copenhagen City Council restored the building and started using it for cultural purposes, first as a library and then as a naval museum. In 1957, renowned artist and organizer Knud Pedersen rented a part of the former church to open an “Art library”, namely an unorthodox marketplace where people could “borrow” a contemporary artwork for a symbolic fee (the price of a cigarette packet), thus inaugurating its use as an avant-garde venue and exhibition space for innovative art, a route which eventually led to the creation of the current Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center.

Today, the center accommodates three exhibition rooms (the Lower Gallery, the Upper Gallery, and the Tower Room), educational spaces, and a cafe-restaurant.

The Nikolaj Kunsthal – Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center organizes 5 to 6 special exhibitions each year, which include solo and group exhibitions of Danish and international contemporary art, especially focused on the most experimental and innovative artistic expressions, as well as various special events and educational programs. Since 2011, the center has also organized an annual festival of video art, entitled Focus.


Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen “Being Human Being” (2014-15). Installation view. Nikolaj Kunsthal. Photo: Frida Gregersen 


Daniel & Geo Fuchs “Stasi Secret Rooms” (2014). Installation view.


“Trust – One Exhibition, Five Venues” (2015), installation view. 


“Pixelade – an exhibition for everyone aged 0 – 116“ (2014). Installation view. Photo: Léa Nielsen


Yael Bartana “Pardes (Orchard)” (2015). Installation view. Embodied: Performance & Documentary. Foto: Fridag Gregersen


Karin Sander “Zeigen. An Audiotour Through Copenhagen” (2013). Installation view


The Museum is closed – an Exhibition about Knud Pedersen. Installation view. 2015. Photo: Frida Gregersen

embodied performance og documentary

Zina Saro-Wiwa “Mourning Class: Nollywood” (2010). Installation view. Embodied: Performance & Documentary. Foto: Fridag Gregersen



“Either/Or” (2013). Installation view. Photo: Léa Nielsen

Cover image: Karin Sander “Zeigen. An Audiotour Through Copenhagen” (2013).
Unless differently specified, all photos are courtesy of Nikolaj Kunsthal

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